“Come, let us walk in the Light of the Lord” During these short days of “darkness” we are easily overcome by the pain/darkness of the world and our own circumstances. We so need to follow the Light and yet our tendency is to create our own “light” and we work so hard and spend such energy to make the “light” shine in the midst of our darkness. If we can just get it perfect and have everything in order with the right environment and choose the right gift along with hosting the perfect party, then we have a promise of some light in the midst of a broken world that attempts to manage everything with power and money. The beginning of the Church Year, Advent, holds a promise for a new beginning for each of us, but power/money/control/perfection is not the method for those longing for the Infinite with an awareness of an open heart.
During a recent weekend, I was invited to a residence with a mix of people for dinner, very hospitable. I knew some of these folks and others were new, but all are participating in the sacramental life of the Church here at SJE. It was my desire to make the rounds and attempt to know everyone, some I recognized by faces and others were very familiar in relationship. While looking at a lovely young pregnant woman, I was trying to place her and her husband with SJE and fit the pieces together. The presumption is always the same, they know me and they don’t want to admit/acknowledge that I don’t know them as their presence at SJE is limited, but this is not my starting point. My posture is not to measure, but of course, my heart cannot hide this as I know the beauty of people being fully engaged with affection for Christ and the community that I treasure and those at a distance are not easily recognized.
A short introduction opens the conversation and this person acknowledges a way of being defensive and at the same time, telling me how beautiful our liturgy is and the gift of being able to join such a vibrant community. With a grateful heart, I apologize for not knowing them and I loved her honesty, “You don’t need to apologize as we are kind of members and I would not expect you to know us as we do not come every weekend.” Gradually, there is a crack in the presentation and we are becoming more true and available with an openness.
My response to all of this: “You are welcome to join us and participate in our life.” “Yes, I know, but I am afraid that I will need to become involved and you will ask me for some of my time and gifts, but I feel overwhelmed by the challenges of our life and especially with our third child being born soon, so we have chosen not to belong to the SJE community in a concrete way, but we want to have a baptism and no doubt, we need to take seriously our belonging.”
“Come, let us walk in the Light” is a call for a new beginning. Belonging is at the heart of taking steps to mature and accept the call/task of being engaged and recognize that I am not in control and my power is so limited, even though my “perfect” everything appears to offer me all that I need, I am out of reality and managing my circumstances does not bring me to an understanding or awareness of being understood. The arrival of a “Presence/Light” is a walk with the Old Testament and the experience of so many who said “yes”, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Mary and Joseph, but they entered into their circumstances, not with power and clearly not “skepticism – a cut with reality”, but a level of believing that nurtures all they could see and know, with an affection of reason and engagement.
Grateful for the hope I experience in serving you,
Father Jerry Mahon